CHS Blog

Latex Gloves Allergy Symptoms & Treatments

Posted on 27th , April 2012

Latex gloves are commonly used during medical examinations and procedures. They are also sold for general use to people wishing to defend their hands while performing a variety of everyday tasks either at work or at home

Many people can wear latex gloves without any problems, but some are affected, either mildly or severely, by being allergic to the components and proteins found in the gloves. They may be allergic to the natural rubber latex coming from the rubber tree itself or to chemical additives used during the manufacturing process.

Latex allergy rises with exposure and is on the rise throughout the world so gloves made of non-latex materials are now being more widely manufactured and used.

A latex allergy occurs when the body's immune system mistakenly thinks that latex is a harmful substance and takes various measures to get rid of it from the body. Repeated exposure to latex and rubber products may also induce symptoms.

Recognizing the signs and symptoms of a latex allergy can help people to avoid potential allergic reactions.


Allergy to latex comes in two different forms - delayed reaction and immediate reaction.

A type of delayed reaction and generally the least threatening type of latex allergic reaction is a rash or itchy skin. This can be tiny red spots or bumps or dryness on the skin in areas that have been in contact with the gloves. Rashes and skin irritation occur within 12 to 24 hours but can also occur within a few minutes of contact. In some cases this rash or skin dermatitis can be more severe, last longer and spread to other parts of the body.

Immediate reactions can cause conjunctivitis, cramps and hay fever-like symptoms such as mild sneezing, running nose, cough, wheezing or sore throat. �Breathing can become difficult due to swelling of membranes in the nose and mouth.
Other severe allergic reactions can cause hives or raised red welts on the skin and are generally caused instantly after coming into contact with latex.

All these symptoms are caused by the body's immune system reacting against the allergy.
An extremely severe and immediate reaction to latex gloves may cause a person to experience a condition known as anaphylaxis shock. Latex is a common trigger of anaphylaxis shock.

Anaphylaxis shock is caused by the immense and immediate release of chemicals by the immune system which causes the body to go into shock. Blood pressure can drop dramatically, airways to the lungs can narrow which makes breathing difficult, and there can be other symptoms including nausea, dizziness, vomiting and reduced vision. Another common symptom is the severe swelling of the lips, eyes and mouth.

Anaphylaxis shock is a severe and potentially life-threatening allergic reaction.


There is no cure for latex allergy and the best way to prevent an allergic reaction is to avoid exposure to latex. However, as latex is extremely common and used in over 40,000 products avoidance may be difficult.

A number of treatments can be given which reduce and relieve the symptoms.

Anaphylactic shock is extremely serious and it is critical that the patient goes to the hospital emergency department immediately. They will often be given an injection of epinephrine (adrenalin) and treatments may include the use corticosteroids and anti-histamines.

If anaphylactic shock isn't treated right away, it can lead to unconsciousness or even death.

For milder symptoms patients should speak to their doctor who may prescribe antihistamines to reduce the reaction and give relief to itching and discomfort.

Creams such as topical corticosteroid creams can also give relief to skin conditions by controlling inflammation. Corticosteroid pills or syrup can be used to give relief to nasal stuffiness, sneezing, coughing and sore throat type symptoms.

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